On Monday, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order issuing a 90-day ban on travel from six majority Muslim countries – Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya. This new order is a revised version of the President’s first Executive Order addressing travel and visas, which was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals. The Coalition believes that hate has no home in the United States and we support immigrants and refugees on their quest to achieving the American Dream.
When refugees arrive to the U.S., they seek out resettlement services, including adult education. During 2014, 56% of students in a state-administered adult education program in Illinois were English Language Learners. The Muslim refugee population peaked in 2016, representing 46% of all refugees admitted into the country. As providers, we can be the first to see the potential in our students and provide resources to help them succeed. It’s important for us to check our own biases and learn about the growing muslim refugee population.
This executive order will only fuel hate and discrimination, despite the large evidence that Muslims and refugees are less likely to commit crimes and act as terrorists. Less than 1% of Muslim Americans are linked to violent domestic terrorism, according to a study from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Furthermore, according to the Cato Institute, not a single refugee from the six countries included in the travel ban have gone on to commit acts of terror. An American has a 1 in 3.6 billion chance of being killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee.
The decision to abandon one’s homeland is not made lightly; it can come as the result of war, famine, economic struggles, and many other hardships. The journey to American soil can cause families to sail thousands of miles under the midnight Mediterranean sky and endure a grueling 18 to 24 month vetting process which includes multiple interviews with U.S. Immigration officials and a full health screening. Thousands of people from across the globe risk their lives for safety and stability by leaving their home countries and they should be met with empathy and understanding.
Refugee communities, particularly in the Rust Belt, have been shown to offset population decline and breathe new life into aging communities. Cities like Utica, New York, where nearly a quarter of all families are refugees, have credited the new population with revitalizing the slumping economy. In Cleveland, Ohio, refugees added nearly $48 million to the local economy in 2012. Immigrants and refugees can play a key role in neighborhood revitalization because they tend to pursue business ventures that are often overlooked by native-born citizens. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, 28% of Main Street businesses nationally (like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and beauty salons) are owned by immigrants. These types of businesses act as the backbone for neighborhoods across the country.
Our work goes beyond teaching English; it’s helping refugees feel at home in their new community in order to help them thrive. At this time, it is important that we offer support and solidarity with the immigrant and refugee community. Policies like this travel ban allow racism and xenophobia to divide us, but it’s up to us to speak out against discrimination.